ZenBusiness vs. Northwest Registered Agent: Which is better?

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Explore the differences between ZenBusiness and Northwest Registered Agent to find the ideal partner for your business formation and compliance requirements.

$199/yr - $349/yr
$39 + state filing fees
Entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to form an LLC or corporation quickly and affordably.
Entrepreneurs who want to start or expand their businesses.
$199/yr - $349/yr
Entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to form an LLC or corporation quickly and affordably.
$39 + state filing fees
Entrepreneurs who want to start or expand their businesses.

Are you on the exciting journey of starting a new business and searching for the ideal companion to guide you?

Your quest ends here! Read this in-depth comparison of ZenBusiness and Northwest Registered Agent, both trusted partners committed to simplifying the complex world of business establishment and compliance.

During our exploration, we’ll provide answers to the following questions:

  • Which service aligns perfectly with your unique business needs and aspirations?
  • Who offers the best value for your investment?
  • How extensive are the support options for each service?

Whether you’re a new entrepreneur or an experienced business expert, the decision between ZenBusiness and Northwest Registered Agent is a critical one.

Join us on this enlightening comparison journey, and together, we’ll discover your ideal business formation partner.

Pro-tip: For a more detailed introduction to these two dynamic contenders, explore our comprehensive reviews of ZenBusiness and Northwest Registered Agent.

ZenBusiness vs. Northwest Registered Agent at a glance

FeatureZenBusinessNorthwest Registered AgentWinner
SMB Guide’s Rating8/108/10ZenBusiness
Business Formation ServicesTie
Processing Time2-3 weeks for standard filingAround 7 daysZenBusiness
Registered Agent Services and Costs$199/year$125/yearNorthwest Registered Agent
Name Availability SearchNo in-house search toolNo in-house search toolTie
Online Document AccessTie
Money-Back Guarantees60-day guarantee90-day guaranteeNorthwest Registered Agent
Platform User-FriendlinessUser-friendly interfaceUser-friendly interfaceTie
Customization OptionsTie
Compliance AssistanceTie
Industry-Specific ExpertiseFounded in 2015Founded in 1998Northwest Registered Agent
Customer Education and ResourcesZenBusiness
Customer SupportPhone, email, and live chatPhone, email, and live chatZenBusiness
Pricing$199/yr – $349/yr$39 + state filing feesTie
ScalabilityLLC scalable plansLimited scalabilityZenBusiness

How we evaluate and test softwares

When testing softwares/apps, SMB Guide employs a dual approach based on free trial availability and demos. For platforms offering free trials, we test their functionalities, usability, navigation, and ease of use. In the case of tools lacking a free version or trial, we rely on in-depth research and user testimonials through software review platforms like G2, Capterra, TrustRadius, Software Advice, and GetApp to gauge their performance and capabilities. Learn more about our ratings criteria for business formation services here.

ZenBusiness: Features, Pros, Cons, & Pricing

ZenBusiness homepage

ZenBusiness functions as an online platform committed to simplifying the registration of small businesses and equipping them with vital tools for initiating and running enterprises.

Renowned for its affordability, ZenBusiness offers a remarkably intuitive platform packed with abundant resources, and it is celebrated for its outstanding customer support.

Its fundamental offerings include services for business establishment, registered agent support, access to online documents, a business website builder, and reporting capabilities.

Pros & Cons


Transparent pricing


User-friendly interface

Access to accounting consultation


Some online features may be restricted

Limited availability of some services in specific states


ZenBusiness offers three pricing tiers:

  • Starter: This plan starts at $0, with state fees as an additional cost. It provides essential business formation tools and guidance, and the first year includes ZenBusiness’s worry-free compliance service at no extra charge.
  • Pro: Priced at $199 per year, along with state fees, this plan offers EIN generation, expedited filing options, and dedicated operating agents.
  • Premium: Available at $349 per year, plus state fees, this comprehensive package builds on the Pro plan by adding advanced features like business documents and templates, a business website builder, a dedicated domain name, and a business email address selector.

ZenBusiness has all the tools you need in one place to start, run, and grow your own business.

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Northwest Registered Agent: Features, Pros, Cons, & Pricing

northwest registered agent homepage

Northwest Registered Agent is a company specializing in business formation services, particularly excelling in registered agent services and compliance solutions.

With a vast portfolio encompassing more than 3 million businesses, Northwest Registered Agent proudly holds the position as the second-largest registered agent provider in the industry.

Pros & Cons


Simple flat-rate pricing

Do-it-yourself alternatives

Access to free templates

Additional services


Unavailability of mailboxes in select states

Lack of virtual office services in certain states


Unlike many other companies in this industry, Northwest Registered Agent takes a unique approach by offering individual services tailored to your specific needs for your LLC, corporation, or non-profit.

The core services to know are:

  • Registered Agent Service: Priced at $125 per year
  • Change of Registered Agent: A DIY service with additional state filing fees
  • Annual Report Filing Service: Available for $100, plus the requisite state filing fee
  • Mail Forwarding and Scanning Services: Priced at $20 per month, featuring addresses in CA, DE, FL, GA, IL, ID, MT, NY, TX, UT, WA, or WY
  • Virtual Office and Office Leasing: Offered at $29 per month, with addresses in CA, DE, FL, GA, IL, ID, MT, NY, TX, UT, WA, or WY.
Northwest Registered Agent

With Northwest Registered Agent, you can start an LLC, hire a registered agent, and maintain state-to-state business compliance.

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Business Formation Services

ZenBusiness offers a comprehensive business formation service, with a strong focus on assisting in the establishment of LLCs and corporations.

Their expertise shines through in helping you secure a suitable business name, ensuring strict adherence to state regulations, and facilitating effortless modifications as needed.

Whether your business endeavors involve dissolution, expansion into new states, obtaining a Certificate of Good Standing, or registering a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name, ZenBusiness is ready to provide highly accessible online solutions to meet all your business-related needs.

Getting started is a breeze – simply provide your details and specific requirements, and ZenBusiness will take it from there, offering an all-in-one solution designed to foster business growth and ensure straightforward compliance.

Northwest’s formation services

Northwest Registered Agent offers business formation services for LLCs, corporations, and nonprofits.

The processing times and expenses associated with your registration will fluctuate based on the specific state in which you’re establishing your business.

For their services, Northwest charges a $100 filing fee in addition to their $125 registered agent fee, and any applicable state filing fees.

Both services tie as they have a similar range of formation services that they offer.

Winner: Tie

Processing Time

ZenBusiness takes pride in its remarkable processing speeds, often surpassing industry standards.

On average, the completion period falls within the 2 to 3-week range, depending on your chosen state and package.

Particularly, the more advanced plans like Pro and Premium offer expedited processing, with the fastest turnaround clocking in at just 1 to 3 days.

For those seeking even faster service, ZenBusiness provides expedited processing choices for an extra fee.

These options range from $49 to $99 per order, ensuring a personalized solution that suits your specific requirements.

Northwest’s processing time

With Northwest Registered Agent, the processing times differ significantly from one state to another and you have the option to choose between even 2-day processing times in certain states versus longer options, depending on your rush and your own budget.

Keep in mind though that opting for the faster processing option incurs an additional $100 fee payable to the state.

ZenBusiness’s expedited services are more cost-effective so ZenBusiness wins this category.

Winner: ZenBusiness

Registered Agent Services & Costs

ZenBusiness provides registered agent services for an annual fee of $199, which can be conveniently added to your chosen business formation package.

This service ensures that important company documents, such as tax notifications and legal summons, are expertly handled, removing the need for constant monitoring of incoming mail and legal notices.

What’s more, ZenBusiness offers a hassle-free process for switching to another registered agent service provider without any penalties or cancellation fees.

This flexibility allows your business to adapt to evolving requirements with ease.

Northwest’s registered agent services

In contrast, Northwest Registered Agent provides a flat-rate registered agent service at $125 per year, regardless of whether you select their service in one state or multiple states. 

This means you receive consistent and straightforward pricing, making it a cost-effective option for those looking for reliable registered agent services.

Though very close in pricing, Northwest Registered Agent wins this category as it slightly undercuts ZenBusiness.

Winner: Northwest Registered Agent

Name Availability Search

ZenBusiness does not provide an in-house name availability search tool.

Instead, they guide users to the Secretary of State’s websites in individual states to perform name availability checks. 

They also offer extensive assistance in effectively using these state websites, simplifying the process for users, even if it means not having their own name search tool integrated.

Northwest’s name search

I couldn’t locate a name availability search tool on Northwest Registered Agent.

You provide the desired name during the application process. If, for any reason, the name is unavailable, they will notify you.

However, like ZenBusiness, they do provide guidance on how to get the name search done.

Winner: Tie

Online Document Access

ZenBusiness offers convenient online access to essential business documents, including formation certificates, annual reports, compliance records, and EIN confirmation letters.

These documents can be easily viewed, downloaded, printed, and managed from anywhere with an internet connection.

This digital approach eliminates the need for physical document storage and the worry of misplacing important records, helping you stay organized and informed about your business matters.

Northwest’s online document access

When you sign up with Northwest Registered Agent and complete your order, you will gain access to an online portal.

This portal serves as a centralized hub where you can conveniently access all your business formation documents. 

These documents include crucial paperwork related to your business establishment, making it easy for you to manage and keep track of your records in one place.

Winner: Tie

Money-Back Guarantees

ZenBusiness offers its customers two strong money-back guarantees designed to ensure their satisfaction.

The first is a thorough 100% satisfaction guarantee, allowing clients to request a full refund within 60 days of their purchase if they are not satisfied with their membership or any add-on service.

The second guarantee is the worry-free guarantee and takes customer assurance to the next level.

It promises to refund fees and address any problems if clients fail to meet filing deadlines or face fines due to any negligence on ZenBusiness’s part.

This additional safeguard provides customers with an added sense of security and peace of mind.

Northwest’s guarantees

As per the terms and conditions of Northwest Registered Agent, all purchases are considered final and non-refundable after a 90-day period, unless there is a written agreement stating otherwise or if it is mandated by the specific service-related laws.

Winner: Northwest Registered Agent

Platform User-Friendliness

ZenBusiness is renowned for its exceptionally user-friendly online platform, which serves to greatly simplify the often complex process of business formation.

Their platform boasts an intuitive website design with clear, step-by-step instructions at every stage, making it easy for entrepreneurs to navigate through the necessary steps involved in establishing their businesses.

This carefully designed interface is structured to streamline the entire business formation process, encompassing tasks such as reserving a business name and filing the required paperwork.

It caters to the needs of both newcomers and experienced business owners, ensuring an accessible and efficient experience for all.

Northwest’s user interface

Northwest Registered Agent is renowned for its user-friendly approach, which empowers business owners to efficiently and effortlessly manage their company.

They provide a wide range of free and readily accessible forms along with comprehensive step-by-step guidance, making the LLC formation process a breeze.

These resources are always at your fingertips, ensuring you have everything you need for a seamless experience.

Moreover, Northwest takes technology integration to the next level.

Their state-of-the-art online portal is designed with user-friendliness in mind, keeping you well-informed about compliance matters, granting easy access to vital documents, and sending personalized notifications for upcoming deadlines. 

This cutting-edge system ensures you’re in complete control, regardless of your location, making the management of your business a smooth and hassle-free endeavor.

Winner: Tie

Customization Options

ZenBusiness places a strong focus on providing a tailored experience within its incorporation and business formation services.

This commitment to personalization includes an extensive collection of customizable templates, which are easily accessible online and optimized for mobile usage.

These resources give customers the flexibility to fine-tune their documents and materials to precisely suit their unique business needs.

Furthermore, ZenBusiness takes customization a step further by offering a range of add-on services and packages.

These include features such as Registered Agents, New York Publication, business credit cards, business banking solutions, and more.

With this wide array of options and the ability to mix and match services, businesses have the freedom to create a customized package that perfectly aligns with their specific requirements.

Northwest Registered agent services

On the other hand, Northwest Registered Agent offers a high degree of customization for those interested in a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach.

Instead of predefined packages, Northwest allows you to purchase their services individually, giving you the flexibility to create a customized package that precisely aligns with your needs.

This approach is ideal for mid-sized companies seeking tailored solutions without breaking the bank. 

You also get a wealth of free business entity forms. These forms can be invaluable for businesses pursuing a DIY approach to their business setup.

For LLCs, Northwest offers free customizable forms such as articles of organization, Operating Agreement (including versions for single-member and multi-member LLCs), meeting minutes, capital contributions bill of sale, membership certificates, and articles of amendment.

It also extends its customization options to corporations with free forms including articles of incorporation, corporate bylaws, first shareholder meeting templates, certificates of stock, issuance of corporate stock, and board of director meeting templates.

Winner: Tie

Compliance Assistance

ZenBusiness offers a wide spectrum of compliance support services, with a particular focus on annual report filing.

This service plays a pivotal role in helping clients uphold their good standing with the state by ensuring the punctual submission of essential annual reports.

Moreover, ZenBusiness goes the extra mile by providing dedicated compliance management and worry-free compliance assistance.

These services are designed to equip businesses with the tools they need to effectively monitor and manage deadlines pertaining to diverse regulatory obligations.

This comprehensive level of support proves to be instrumental in helping businesses maintain full compliance with both state and federal requirements.

Northwest’s compliance assistance

Northwest offers various services related to business compliance and registered agent services.

This includes change of registered agent, mail forwarding and scanning services, virtual office and office leasing, Federal IRS EIN registration, S-corp tax election, corporate book and seal. 

They’re renowned for their compliance management and especially, offers additional services for those looking to expand their business, companies coming from overseas, and wholesale or white-label corporate services.

Winner: Tie

Industry-Specific Expertise

ZenBusiness has a rich history of more than 8 years in the industry, making them a reliable choice for businesses across various sectors.

Their extensive experience in business formation, compliance, and ongoing management positions them as a versatile option for entrepreneurs from different industries.

Having served over half a million small businesses, ZenBusiness offers a strong knowledge base and services that can be tailored to suit the unique needs of various business sectors.

Northwest’s expertise

Northwest Registered Agent was founded in 1998 and remains a family-owned and employee-operated company.

They take pride in their commitment to excellent customer service and privacy protection.

With over 900 customer service employees, known as Corporate Guides®, situated across the country, they bring a wealth of experience to assist businesses.

These Corporate Guides have diverse backgrounds, including paralegals, accountants, advisors, educators, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and industry experts.

They possess insider knowledge of the business world and understand the intricacies of various U.S. jurisdictions.

Importantly, they are passionate about sharing their expertise and are not focused on sales commissions.

Their motto, “We’re Just Not Annoying®,” reflects their commitment to offering a hassle-free and informative service.

Winner: Northwest Registered Agent

Customer Education and Resources

ZenBusiness provides a wealth of high-quality educational resources aimed at helping customers understand the intricacies of business incorporation, compliance requirements, and ongoing business management.

Their website hosts a comprehensive library of informative guides, articles, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and tutorials, offering valuable insights and step-by-step instructions covering various aspects of business formation and management. 

One standout feature is the ZenBusiness Academy, an exclusive resource that further enhances their array of available learning tools.

These resources are designed to empower entrepreneurs with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions and effectively manage their businesses.

Northwest’s registered agent

Northwest provides an extensive collection of comprehensive guides and resources for business owners on its website.

These valuable materials cover various aspects of business ownership, ensuring that entrepreneurs have access to the information they need to navigate the complexities of running a company effectively.

In addition to their comprehensive guides, Northwest offers a range of free templates for essential business documents, including legal certificates and bylaws.

These templates make it easier for business owners to create and customize important documents as needed.

For those seeking additional insights and information, Northwest maintains a blog that covers various topics relevant to businesses.

You can explore their blog where you’ll find a wealth of articles and resources to help you stay informed and make informed decisions.

Winner: ZenBusiness

Customer Support

ZenBusiness provides multiple channels for customer support, ensuring that clients can easily reach out for assistance through various communication options.

You can get in touch with their customer service team via phone, email, chat, and several social media platforms.

Their support services are accessible on weekdays, starting at 8 a.m. and continuing until 8 p.m. CST. 

Moreover, ZenBusiness extends their phone and chat support to Sundays, with operational hours from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST, offering a wider window for customer assistance.

Northwest’s customer support

Northwest Registered Agent features a “Contact Us” box that resembles a live chat interface.

The message indicates that if it’s within the hours of 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. PST (9 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST), their team may be assisting other clients and will be ready to assist you shortly.

In addition, Northwest Registered Agent offers alternative ways to reach their support team, including a support email and a phone number for your convenience.

Winner: ZenBusiness


Here’s a table breaking down ZenBusiness’s available plans:

PlanPriceFeaturesBest for
Starter$0 + state feeBasis business formation tools and guides
One-year worry-free compliance
Small businesses/individual entrepreneurs
Pro$199 + state feeFast filing speeds
Operating Agreement
Small businesses who want expedited processing times and worry-free taxing process
Premium$349 + state feeBusiness documents
Business domain name and email address
Business website builders
Medium to large sized business formation services that can make use of the features fully

NorthWest Registered Agent basically offers one structured plan to know, and leaves the alternative of DIY options to you.

FeatureDIYPaid Plan
Business formation$100 filing fee + state fees$39 + state fees
Processing timeUp to you1-7 days
Registered Agent serviceVaries per state$125 per year
Money-back guaranteeNot included90 days included
Other additional featuresAs per your selected add-onsMail Forwarding
Operating Agreement
Membership Certificates

You can also avail the following paid add-ons in the DIY package:

Annual Report Filing Service$100 + state fee
Mail Forwarding and Scanning Services$20/month with addresses in CA, DE, FL, GA, IL, ID, MT, NY, TX, UT, WA, or WY
Virtual Office and Office Leasing$29/month with addresses in CA, DE, FL, GA, IL, ID, MT, NY, TX, UT, WA, or WY
Federal IRS Registration$50 EIN service for US citizens with social security numbers
$200 EIN service for non-citizens or those that don’t have SSN
EIN + Incorporation is $275 + state fees
Corporate Book and SealBook with traditional binder: $80
GoBook: $40
Corporate Seal: $30
BOC-3 Blanket Agent Service$125/year, no per-state charges
Non-US Resident Company FormationFor $925: Company formation, registered agent service, EIN, Unlimited mail scanning, unique business address, and office lease 
For $1425: everything above plus Certified copy of articles, Apostille, and a Certificate of Incumbency

Winner: Tie


ZenBusiness primarily utilizes a subscription-based pricing model, offering a variety of subscription plans that can be customized to suit your specific business needs.

These plans are designed with scalability in mind, providing different tiers with increasing features and services as you move up the ladder.

Northwest’s scalability

Northwest Registered Agent doesn’t provide structured scalability plans like ZenBusiness.

Instead, they offer a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach where you can purchase their services separately to create a customized package that suits your specific needs.

Additionally, Northwest offers various add-ons to enhance your experience.

As ZenBusiness come equipped with more operational growth plans, ZenBusiness wins this category.

Winner: ZenBusiness

Standout Features of ZenBusiness

ZenBusiness stands out by offering integrated web editing capabilities, which allow businesses to create a robust online presence.

This includes domain name setup, website template selection, and content and design customization.

Through a personalized dashboard, you can tailor your business website at your convenience.

ZenBusiness distinguishes itself by expediting the business formation process with quicker filing times.

Specifically, the Pro and Premium plans offer the fastest filing speed, enabling you to establish your business within days rather than the typical weeks it takes.

This accelerated service significantly reduces waiting times and allows you to focus on the growth of your business.

Standout Features of Northwest Registered Agent

In addition to providing business formation and registered agent services, Northwest Registered Agent offers supplementary services such as virtual mailboxes and virtual offices.

However, it’s important to note that the availability of these options varies by state, meaning they might not be offered in all regions.

Northwest Registered Agent provides virtual mailbox services in specific states.

These services allow businesses to have a digital mailbox address where they can receive and manage mail, including important documents and correspondence.

This feature is particularly useful for businesses that want to maintain a professional address without the need for a physical office location.

Similar to virtual mailboxes, Northwest Registered Agent offers virtual office services in select states.

A virtual office provides businesses with a prestigious business address, which can enhance their professional image.

Additionally, it often includes mail management services and may also offer meeting room access, making it a practical choice for businesses that require occasional physical presence or meeting facilities.

ZenBusiness vs. Northwest Registered Agent: SMB Guide’s Verdict

ZenBusiness takes the lead by providing a comprehensive array of services, making it the preferred choice for entrepreneurs in search of versatile and robust solutions to meet their diverse business needs.

To get started with ZenBusiness, click here.

Nonetheless, it’s important to recognize that Northwest Registered Agent is an excellent fit for those who value DIY capabilities and want to custom-build their own package for incorporation.

You can get started with Northwest Registered Agent by clicking here!

In the end, while both services have their strengths, ZenBusiness stands out as the top performer in this comparison.


ZenBusiness has all the tools you need in one place to start, run, and grow your own business.

Start an LLC
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Beatrice is a seasoned productivity writer with a knack for uncovering game-changing productivity hacks that simplify life routines. Armed with a triple major in Commerce, Accounting, and Insurance, she also runs her own digital consulting firm. You'll usually find her immersed in crafting captivating literary novels and traveling the world.